That’s great news for the imperiled wildlife and landscape of America’s desert southwest. Napolitano’s record shows that she’s the ideal candidate to fulfill Obama’s pledge to tear down (most of) the Bush administration’s border wall now dividing Arizona from Mexico. She’s long opposed the border wall as a counterproductive way to deliver border security. Here are her remarks on the topic from a 2007 address to the National Press Club [PDF]:
I’ve prosecuted the illegal immigrants and the smugglers; I have also vetoed eight bills from my state legislature that I deemed overly harsh and ineffective. I declared a state of emergency and was the first governor to openly advocate for the National Guard at the border; yet, I also have refused to agree that a wall by itself is an answer. As I often say, “You show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.”
I also refuse to concede that illegal immigration is a political winner for those who simplistically suggest we can just “seal” the border. I won re-election with 63 percent of the vote, carrying every county and legislative district in my state, despite the fact that my opponent’s chief complaint against me was that I was somehow “soft” on immigration. I’m not. And he lost.
Here are some of the key elements of a real border plan:
The first is the development of innovative, technology-driven border control between the ports of entry. Boots on the ground definitely help, but we can shore up our border gaps with ground-based sensors, radar, and unmanned aerial vehicles for wide-area intrusive-detection. Any combination of the above will work far better than any 10 or 20 or 50 miles of wall. The Department of Homeland Security is now installing this kind of technology. They need increased funding to sustain their efforts.
Napolitano has some other green cred. In 2006, she signed an executive order, which mandated that Arizona’s global warming emissions return to 2000 levels by 2020 and 50 percent below that level by 2040. She was also one of the five original governors who created the Western Climate Initiative.
She became a shoo-in for the post when Kristin Wiig parodied her border security policy last week on Saturday Night Live.